Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Boston Bruins
Posted on: January 16, 2012 1:53 pm
 

No discipline for Lecavalier following punch

By: Adam Gretz

During his third period destruction of the Lightning on Sunday afternoon, Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin found himself in the middle of a confrontation with Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier.

The incident started when Malkin ducked out of the way along the boards to avoid a check from Lecavalier, and ended when the Tampa Bay captain threw a punch at Malkin's face during a scrum. When all was said and done, Lecavalier was issued 14 penalty minutes (four for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct) while Malkin received a two-minute minor of his own.

It's been reported on Monday that Lecavalier will not face any further discipline from the NHL for that late punch that he delivered.

The entire incident has sparked a bit of a bizarre reaction, as the Lightning felt that Malkin was taking a run at Lecavalier's knee, while analysts Keith Jones and Mike Milbury put the blame on Malkin for trying to avoid the check, and even went as far as to compare it to the Brad Marchand-Sami Salo incident from last week (and in case you forgot about that one, you can read up on it here).

And here is Milbury and Jones talking about Sunday's incident, and all of the important on-ice action that led to it.



I'm not sure I buy the argument that it's at all comparable to the Marchand-Salo play, but what do you think? Is it the same thing? And should Lecavalier have faced any supplemental discipline from the league for his punch?

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Brad Marchand suspended for clipping
More NHL Discipline news

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 15, 2012 4:06 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 5:24 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Do you believe in the Sens?

By Brian Stubits

As the Monkees once sang, I'm a believer.

It has taken more than half a season, but I'm ready to buy stock in the Ottawa Senators. Now I don't think I'd like them to do much beyond make the playoffs at this point, but considering preseason expectations, that's a minor miracle in and of itself.

Before the season began, I remember seeing Senators GM Bryan Murray saying he thought his team could make the playoffs this season contrary to about everybody's prediction of the team's outlook. I also remember my reaction to it was to laugh.

My laughing has stopped.

The Senators pretty much dispelled any notion that this has been a fluke. Their 46 games played are enough to convince you otherwise.

Something else I personally was laughing at was their trade for Kyle Turris. Based on a few seasons of minimal production in Phoenix, I was of the mind that Kyle Turris wasn't as good as his draft position a few years ago indicated, that he was still living off a "potential" tag that wasn't going to materialize the way everybody hoped. In short, I saw Turris as being overrated.

So here's an "oops" on a couple of accounts.

The match of Turris and the Senators has been one forged in heaven. Or something like that. Since Murray shipped defenseman David Rundblad to the Coyotes (who has since been sent down to the AHL) in exchange for Turris, it's been a win for the Senators. A lot of wins.

With Turris in their lineup, the Senators are a sensational 12-2-2, including four consecutive wins after the prevailed over the Canadiens in a shootout on Saturday. Turris has contributed two goals and seven assists in that time.

They have come a long way since that 1-5-0 start to the season.

On the sobering side, they still give up way too much. Their 3.13 goals against per game clocks in at 27th in the league, ahead of only the Hurricanes, Blue Jackets and Lightning. Just check the standings to see how those teams are faring by giving up so much.

But the Sens can score. You can nit-pick their four All-Star selections, but none of them is completely undeserving. In a game that values offense, the Sens have that covered. Between Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza and the venerable Daniel Alfredsson (as well as Erik Karlsson on the blue line) you see how Ottawa is where it is.

Now you have to account for some inflation here. The Senators have played more games than any of the other contenders in the East, so everybody has games in hand on them. But fact of the matter is they have put themselves in a good position to withstand the tide turning back toward other teams in the games-played department.

This is a big stretch for the Senators, playing nine games out of 10 on the road and so far they are three for three.

Feel free to believe.

Home sweet home

The game of the weekend got Saturday started off right with an early faceoff in Detroit. The Red Wings and Blackhawks met for the third time this season, and for the third time it was a 3-2 final. Talk about great hockey.

More from the weekend
Recaps
Stories

Considering the game was at the Joe in Detroit, you should have no problem correctly guessing who prevailed. It was an OT tally from Todd Bertuzzi that gave the Wings the second point on the day, an overtime that was completely controlled by Detroit.

The Red Wings have a great history. You all know that. They have become the definition of a playoff staple. So it's saying something about this year's team when you consider they just captured their 14th consecutive win on home ice to tie a team record. That goes all the way back to 1965.

"Even though we're in the thick of a tight race, it is something we can be proud of as a team," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "This franchise hasn't done this since the 1960s, so it says a lot that we've been able to do it."

That's why the Central Division race is going to be so critical this season. If the Red Wings can get the division title, they are guaranteed to have home ice for at least one series come playoff time. In a division as tight as the Central.

The devil inside

One question I've heard a few times in the press box this season is if the New Jersey Devils are for real. My answer: no doubt.

They aren't without their concerns, for sure. Their goalie situation isn't ideal these days with Martin Brodeur and as good as their power play can be with the skill they have, they have a little problem allowing short-handed goals.

But the thing with the Devils that people forget is that last season was the anomaly. The expectations weren't high because of the miserable first half they endured last season, partly due to salary cap constraints, partly due the absence of Zach Parise.

Bring back a healthy Parise and the rookie Adam Henrique and you have the Devils playing good hockey this season. They were able to do what very few teams have been able to on Saturday night and that was to go into Winnipeg and come away with a victory over the Jets at the MTS Centre thanks to two third-period goals. The winner came from Patrik Elias, his 16th.

Therein lies one of the things I like about any staying power for the Devils, they are more than Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Henrique. They have some second-level scoring to fill in.

Plus, they don't lose in shootouts or overtime much at all. That doesn't help when the postseason comes around but it can help them get there.

They needed that

It sounds like hyperbole, but this really might have been the biggest weekend of the season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They were struggling bad, having lost six games in a row for the first time in years. Then there was the drama about some possibly internal strife and the idea that the Penguins might name a captain in Sidney Crosby's absence.

The team debunked any of that talk on Friday when they took to the ice in Sunrise, Fla. for their morning skate with everybody wearing a C on their sweater (except for Evgeni Malkin who wore a K). The media scrutiny of them and their captain was apparently getting to them so they fought back.

And then they fought back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, too. They came out against the Panthers on Friday night and assaulted the Southeast Division leaders (not for much longer) on their way to a slump-busting 4-1 win. Making sure not to follow it up with a thud, they jumped on the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Sunday and held on to give the Bolts a seventh straight loss.

To put in perspective how dominating they were, the Pens outshot the Panthers and Lightning by a combined 85-46 and won each game by three.

That was a weekend that was sorely needed. The team appears to be galvanized by the whole episode, playing some great hockey in Florida. Either that or the feel of a vacation in the Sunshine State did the trick.

Quote of the weekend

"That should suggest to this whole locker room that we're not far off." -- Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jay Harrison.

That came after the Hurricanes pulled off the "say what?" moment of the weekend by doubling up the Bruins in Carolina 4-2 on Saturday night.

They might believe they're not far off as far as putting it all together, but they're still very far off when it comes to the standings. However three wins in a row has done something for them in the standings, take them out of the Southeast cellar thanks to the Lightning's skid.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 13, 2012 10:15 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 10:51 am
 

Subban with a questionable hit on Krejci

By Brian Stubits

They must feel like it's been months since there was good news in Montreal regarding their beloved Canadiens.

Mike Cammalleri saying the team was playing like losers and then promptly being shipped out of town -- perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not -- to Calgary for Rene Bourque on Thursday night. In the middle of the game. It was just another episode in the gripping soap opera How the Habs Turn.

But that wasn't all the news coming out of the Canadiens camp on Thursday. There was also the loss to the Bruins in Boston and perhaps of P.K. Subban for a couple of games thanks to Rule 48 and Brendan Shanahan's duty to uphold it.

More specifically, David Krejci was moving up the left wing near the benches when Subban came to knock him off the puck. He had the chance to deliver a hit to the body of Krejci but instead came in with his arm raised and it sure looks to me like he made the principal point of contact Krejci's head. You judge for yourself.

After the hit there was also the matter of Subban going into a shell and trying to stay down on the ice when Andrew Ference came in to pay Subban back for the hit. In something that just really smacks of wrong, Ference actually put the Bruins on the penalty kill as a result.

It was on that power play that the Canadiens scored their lone goal of the game.

I don't see how there is much of a way Subban is going to dodge the Shanahammer here. Seems like a pretty clear-cut call for a two-game suspension, possibly three for Subban.

And likely endless taunting every time the Habs meet the Bruins for his turtling.

More NHL Discipline News Here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:43 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 4:24 pm
 

All-Star Game: Dissecting the picks; predictions

By Brian Stubits

The NHL announce its full list of All-Stars on Thursday in about as poor a way as it could have. Remember when Mario Lemieux called the NHL a garage league? Maybe he was thinking of days like this.

The NHL had ample opportunities to put this front and center. They could have announced the selections on Wednesday night using NBC Sports Network and TSN. Heck, they could have made the announcement using the NHL Network instead of running a replay of a game from last night.

All of that would have been better. Instead, the All-Star selections started leaking one at a time. The first was the Florida Panthers announcing Brian Campbell would be representing them. Then the Blackhawks followed with the Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. The leaks continued until the NHL finally released the entire list of players about an hour later.

It's almost like it wasn't planned.

Anyway, on to the guys who were selected. These are the guys who will head to Ottawa for the All-Star Game and will be part of the second NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, much like the way you would pick teams for kickball at recess with two captains selecting players until they're gone.

As usual, there are a few head-scratchers in here.

Forwards

Jason Spezza (Senators), Milan Michalek (Senators), Daniel Alfredsson (Senators), Jamie Benn (Stars), Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings), Marian Gaborik (Rangers), Claude Giroux (Flyers), Marian Hossa (Blackhawks), Jarome Iginla (Flames), Patrick Kane (Blackhawks), Phil Kessel (Maple Leafs), Mikko Koivu (Wild), Joffrey Lupul (Maple Leafs), Evgeni Malkin (Penguins), Logan Couture (Sharks), Alex Ovechkin (Capitals), Jason Pominville (Sabres), Daniel Sedin (Canucks), Henrik Sedin (Canucks), Tyler Seguin (Bruins), Corey Perry (Ducks), Steven Stamkos (Lightning), John Tavares (Islanders), Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks).

Defensemen

Erik Karlsson (Senators), Dion Phaneuf (Maple Leafs), Dustin Byfuglien (Jets), Brian Campbell (Panthers), Zdeno Chara (Bruins), Alexander Edler (Canucks), Dan Girardi (Rangers), Shea Weber (Predators), Keith Yandle (Coyotes), Dennis Wideman (Capitals), Ryan Suter (Predators), Kimmo Timonen (Flyers).

Goaltenders

Tim Thomas (Bruins), Brian Elliott (Blues), Jimmy Howard (Red Wings), Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers), Carey Price (Canadiens), Jonathan Quick (Kings).

For those wondering on the breakdown, that's 24 players from the Eastern Conference, 18 from the Western. The six vote-ins all coming from the East helps with that bit of disparity, though.

Now, on to the superlatives ...

Biggest snub

You never know who actually said no to the invite. That's the caveat here. But if nothing else the players should get the honor and then decline to appear (I get the murkiness of it, but they deserve the honor).

With that said, wow, where do I begin? Teemu Selanne? Nicklas Lidstrom? Well they asked out, so no use getting bent out of shape there. So moving on ...

I understand that Nicklas Backstrom (the Capitals center, that is) is injured at the moment, but he's day to day and the game isn't for another few weeks. There is zero doubt that he has been the Capitals' best player this season, not Ovechkin, who made the roster ahead of a long list of players that probably deserved it more.

I scratch my head a little with the selection of Byfuglien on defense. Not that he is bad by any stretch, but I probably would take a few guys over him. From the Jets perspective, I would have liked to see Evander Kane more.

You could make a case -- probably not a great one, however -- for Florida's Jason Garrison, as well. He leads defensemen in goals with 11 and has a slap shot that might possibly stand a chance in the hardest shot competition against Chara and Byfuglien.

There are a few more in the forward role who seem to be more deserving. It's going to continue to come back to Ovechkin because he's the high-profile name with mediocre numbers. Thomas Vanek in Buffalo? Scott Hartnell in Philly? Kris Versteeg in Florida? Patrik Elias for the Devils? Patrice Bergeron in Boston? Patrick Sharp (who was reportedly not picked before injury concerns) Or even Radim Vrbata from the Coyotes? The lists goes on.

It goes to show how even when the fans aren't voting, star power is a big factor. It's always about a little more than just performance.

Least deserving

To make room for the snubs you obviously have to decide who shouldn't be on the list, otherwise they aren't a snub, right? Well that is pretty tough to do.

I do not think Ovechkin deserves his selection based on merit alone. But again, there's more to it than just the stats. Ovechkin gets in based on the star power and marketing more than anything else. I don't necessarily like that, but I can accept that. I think Kane falls into this category to an extent, too. All things being equal, a few of the snubs probably deserve the honor more than Kane this season, but he has a little star power that, say, Versteeg doesn't have.

I'm not terribly high on the other Caps pick of Wideman either. He's had a good season offensively, which is what this game values most, so in that regard it's OK. But even he admitted he was surprised when he was told, he thought he was getting traded.

After them (not counting the guys voted in) it gets pretty tough. Not any wholly undeserving guys (not even the above mentioned).

Keeping in mind that every team gets represented through the All-Star Game or the rookie selections, some guys are safe. That makes it tougher.

Who will be Mr. Irrelevant?

We know this much: It won't be Kessel again. Absolutely no way to predict this accurately, so my stab in the dark is going to say Couture. He's the only member from the Sharks, he is young and plays at the position with the most players, on the wing.

Who will be the captains?

The official announcement will come in a week, so for now we're left to speculate. Alfredsson is a given seeing how the game is in Ottawa. Take that one to the bank. The other was likely going to be Selanne, but now ... Iginla? Maybe you go with an old Senator in Chara? I'd take my chances it's Iginla.

Or maybe Kessel? That would be interesting.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 11, 2012 6:01 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 6:08 pm
 

Crosby to join Pens on trip; still no timetable

By: Adam Gretz

It's been extremely quiet on the Sidney Crosby front recently, and as the Penguins continue to struggle to score goals and win games in the face of mounting injuries, that silence was starting to lead to a lot of questions regarding his status.

The Penguins announced on Wednesday evening, just two hours before the start of their game with the Capitals, that Crosby will be joining the team in Washington and will accompany them on their road trip to Florida. Even though he is scheduled to skate on his own, head coach Dan Bylsma said that there is still no timetable for his return.

Crosby hasn't played for the Penguins since December 5 against the Boston Bruins, a game that saw him take several hits, including a center ice collision with teammate Chris Kunitz, as well an elbow from David Krejci.

The timing of this announcement, as well as Crosby joining the team on the road, is definitely interesting, if not totally bizarre. Following the Penguins' 5-1 loss to Ottawa on Tuesday night Bylsma was pressed on the issue (Crosby's status, as well as the status of defenseman Kris Letang, out with a concussion)

"He's still light exercise off the ice and hasn't gone to a different stage in his rehab in terms of his symptoms, said Bylsma in his post-game press conference.

"The injury they have is symptom based, you don't progress until those symptoms go away. Kris Letang is obviously on the ice and skating, he's progress and Sid is still in light exercise off the ice."

Crosby, of course, missed the second half of last season, as well as the playoffs and the first month-and-a-half of this season due to a concussion. In the eight games he played this season he scored two goals to go with 10 assists.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:03 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 3:48 pm
 

B's Thornton, Vancouver columnist banter on TV

By Brian Stubits

This past weekend's 4-3 Canucks win over the Bruins is the game that keeps on giving.

It was one of the more hyped regular-season games that I can remember (outside of the Winter Classics), it actually lived up to that billing while it was played and the battle has continued to be played out through the media since, even with the teams moving on.

A lot of the postgame chatter has circled around Brad Marchand and the five-game suspension he received for clipping Sami Salo of the Canucks. Needless to say, the Canucks supported the decision and the Bruins didn't. That's just further fueled a fire that has been burning intensely since last June's Stanley Cup Final matchup.

But it hasn't all been about Marchand. Shawn Thornton got into a little back and forth with Vancouver columnist Tony Gallagher of the Province on a CSN New England show Sticks and Stones regarding Thornton's challenging Dale Weise to a fight, something Gallagher clearly objected to. Well the conversation actually began between Gallagher and the show's host Michael Felger, it just so happened that Thornton was in studio.

It has a certain WWE feel to it, doesn't it, one of those between-matches talking segments?

Once you're able to get past Thornton's awesome velvet blazer, it's an interesting conversation. I'm not going to be tough on Gallagher for getting tripped up a little and having the size of the players wrong (he first says Thornton outweighs Weise by 40 pounds, gets it down to 20 but per NHL.com it's only seven pounds), he was essentially ambushed in this segment. (UPDATE: Turns out, Gallagher was informed Thornton might be on. If so, ambush statement retracted.)

Plus, I'll just put it out there, according to Hockeyfights.com, Thornton has not been in three fights in the same period in his NHL career, nor even two. That doesn't mean he's never done it at some point in his hockey playing days, just not in the NHL against presumably the best of the best.

But I can't get past the WWE aspect of it. Thornton seems like that guy who is supposed to be a heel that everybody actually likes.

Maybe as interesting is Felger playing the part of Mean Gene Okerlund and getting a little combative with Gallagher at the end when asking why the Canucks are so hated. Gallagher's response was well put, I thought, and Felger agreed before calling the Canucks "weasely." It ended with a little "we have the Cup" jab.

Can we find a way in the next realignment to put these teams in the same conference?

H/t to Pro Hockey Talk

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:43 am
Edited on: January 10, 2012 2:25 pm
 

Midseason Awards: Breaking up the Hart

By Brian Stubits

On Monday night, the NHL season went over the hump and the second half officially began.

The league has been a Wild ride through only half a season as the Maple Leafs fell from the trees and onto your lawn. Stars have been dropping all over the place, too. Some teams have been singing the Blues as they’ve gone down in Flames while others have been surprising high Flyers as if they were in Jets. You'd almost think they made deals with the Devils or something.

OK, enough with the ambiguous team-name puns, time to get our Ducks in a row here.

In the first half of the season alone the NHL has seen seven head coaches fired, plenty of surprises, has memorized the introduction to a Brandon Shanahan video and had a memorable Winter Classic (we can thank NBC for that, right Torts?).

Now comes the fun part where everybody and their brother has their own candidate for each award, but here are the Eye on Hockey midseason awards as handed out by myself, Brian Stubits and my colleague Adam Gretz.

See that commentary space at the bottom? That's for your write-in candidates. Don't be shy (as if you needed the encouragement).

Hart (Given to the Most Valuable Player)

Stubits: Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Giroux has had absolutely no problem filling the scoring void left by Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in Philadelphia. His 48 points are 11 better than the next highest on his team (Scott Hartnell) despite missing four games with a concussion and he has the Flyers in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.

Gretz: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

I know the history. I know that goaltenders don't generally win this award, and that you can probably count on one hand the number of times it's happened, at least over the past 30-40 years. But we're talking about MVP's of the first half of the season, and I'm not sure where the Rangers would be without him at this point. He faces a heavy workload and he's their best player every night.

Vezina (Given to the most outstanding goalie)

Stubits: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

I had a tough time here with him and Henrik Lundqvist. Considering Quick has carried more of his team's load and has twice as many shutouts clinches it for me. As for Tim Thomas? Hard when Tuukka Rask's numbers are even better. Brian Elliott has been splitting too much. Jimmy Howard another close call. Hard to make a bad pick for Vezina this year.

Gretz: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

The last four goalies to win the MVP (Jose Theodore, Dominik Hasek -- twice -- Jacques Plante) also won the Vezina Trophy that same season, so if I have Lundqvist as my mid-season MVP, it only seems fair to give him the Vezina as well. Boston's Tuukka Rask has better numbers at this point, but he's also only appeared in 14 games.

Norris (Given to the top defenseman)

Stubits: Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Offensively speaking, he's one of the best you'll find in hockey. Defensively speaking, he's one of the best you'll find in hockey. What else could you want in a defenseman? Zdeno Chara comes in a close second for me with Brian Campbell a surprising third.

Gretz: Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

He's one of the leading scorers among defensemen in the NHL and one of the guys Nashville leans on to play heavy minutes (among the toughest in the league), which makes his ability to put up points even more impressive.

Calder (Given to the top rookie)

Stubits: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

As of now, that's not a terribly tough call, I don't think. Nugent-Hopkins has been great for the Oilers this season, particularly on the power play. He's on pace for around 75 points if he were to play 82 games (which he won't). It will get more interesting as the season wears on and Nugent-Hopkins remains sidelined. Watch for Adam Henrique in New Jersey.

Gretz: Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils

Offensively, his numbers are nearly identical to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton with seemingly far less fanfare. I give the edge to Henrique because he's played in tougher situations and is a regular on New Jersey's penalty kill, which happens to be the best in the NHL. He's tied for the league lead (among all players, not just rookies) in shorthanded points.

Jack Adams (Given to the best coach)

Stubits: Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues

How can your choice be anybody else? The Blues were 6-7-0 before he was hired, 18-5-5 since. St. Louis has allowed the third-fewest goals in the NHL behind the Rangers and Bruins. Paul MacLean is my second choice. Kevin Dineen and Mike Yeo slipped with sluggish Decembers.

Gretz: Paul MacLean, Ottawa Senators

Nobody had any preseason expectations for the Ottawa Senators other than that they would be competing for the No. 1 overall pick. Did anybody have them competing for a playoff spot at the halfway point? Or at any point? He also wins the Lanny MacDonald award for best mustache in the NHL.

Selke (Given to the best defensive forward)

Stubits: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

There are some great choices, but you can't go wrong with Bergeron. The Bruins defense is outstanding and he's part of that. Guys like Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews have arguments here too but the best defense should be rewarded in some fashion.

Gretz: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Bergeron has been climbing up the Selke voting in recent years, slowly but surely, and he's the best defensive player on one of the best defensive team in the league. Even though he plays some of the toughest minutes on the team, he's only been on the ice for 10 goals against at even strength. He kills penalties, wins faceoffs ... he does it all. One of the best two-way players in the league.

Best surprise

Stubits: Florida Panthers

The Panthers have been in first place of the Southeast Division for almost two months running. Let those words soak in. Sure, the division hasn't been very good as a whole, but this team was ripped pretty mercilessly for the offseason overhaul and here they are. Other good choices: Jets, Senators, Wild.

Gretz: Ottawa Senators

For the same reasons I have Paul MacLean as mid-season coach of the year. Nobody expected anything from the Senators this season other than for them to be terrible.

Biggest disappointment

Stubits: Buffalo Sabres

They aren't the worst of the candidates -- Ducks, Blue Jackets, Canadiens, Lightning -- but they had some very high expectations and have been incredibly pedestrian. They just aren't scoring much, their 107 goals the second fewest in the East. Very big things were expected of them, a point-per-game pace doesn't fit the bill.

Gretz: Columbus Blue Jackets

Well, this seems easy. Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski were supposed to be difference makers at two spots they needed the most help at, and while I didn't think they would be any sort of contender, I at least thought they would have a shot at the playoffs. At the halfway point, they're the worst team in the league.

Best offseason acquisition

Stubits: Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues

It was very close for me between him and another Brian, Campbell down in Florida. But Elliott, an afterthought on the goalie market this offseason, has been sensational in St. Louis, even before Hitchcock came aboard. He'd be my favorite for the Vezina if he weren't splitting so much with Jaroslav Halak.

Gretz: Ian White, Detroit Red Wings

There were questions as to how the Red Wings would replace Brian Rafalski on the blue line, and Ian White at an average annual salary of $2.75 million over two years has been a bargain for the production and quality of play he's provided.

Worst offseason acquisition

Stubits: Tomas Kaberle, Carolina Hurricanes

To be honest, I was looking for somebody other than Ville Leino, who is likely the runaway choice for this. But Kaberle was almost as bad, the only difference was that his contract isn't the long-term commitment that Leino's is. That didn't stop 'Canes GM Jim Rutherford from fixing his mistake before the All-Star break by trading Kaberle to Montreal. Under the radar pick: Re-signing Dwayne Roloson in Tampa Bay.

Gretz: Ville Leino, Buffao Sabres

This seemed like a dubious signing from the start. Buffalo gave Ville Leino six-years and $27 million based on one full season of production in the NHL. In 30 games this season he has 10 points.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 6:33 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 12:20 am
 

Brad Marchand suspended five games for clipping

By Brian Stubits

Brendan Shanahan's verdict is in for Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand and his clipping on Vancouver's Sami Salo: It's going to cost him five games.

Here is the very interesting explanation from Shanahan on the ruling.

On Sunday, Marchand said that he was defending himself on the play, echoing the comments of his coach Claude Julien. Citing that he's a short player, he was trying to avoid what he thought was a hit coming from Salo. In a few videos this season, Shanahan has explained that he believed the player's assertions on their intentions. Obviously that's not the case here.

Shanahan called the hit "predatory," nothing that they believed he had no intention on the play but to hurt Salo with the hit. That mission was accomplished, by the way. Salo was diagnosed with a concussion after the game.

"While we understand that in certain circumstances, a player may duck or bail instinctively in order to avoid an imminent or dangerous check, we do not view this play as defensive or instinctive," Shanahan explained. "Rather, we feel this was a predatory, low hit delivered intentionally by Marchand in order to flip his opponent over him.

"Further, Salo is not coming at Marchand with great speed, nor in a threatening posture. He does nothing to indicate that Marchand is about to be hit illegally or with excessive force. To be clear, we do not consider this to be a defensive act where there were no other options for Marchand."

It's a very detailed explanation, even including the 20 or seconds before the hit where the two collided on the boards in a much less vicious manner. Marchand then threw a couple of jabs at Salo's back, something that Shanahan took note of.

A short while later, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli released a statement expressing the team's frustration with the ruling.

"While we respect the process that the Department of Player Safety took to reach their decision regarding Brad’s hit on Sami Salo, we are very disappointed by their ruling.

"While we understand that the Department of Safety is an evolving entity, it is frustrating that there are clear comparable situations that have not been penalized or sanctioned in the past.

"It is equally disappointing that Brad sought the counsel of the Department this past Fall for an explanation and clarification regarding this type of scenario so as to adjust his game if necessary. He was advised that such an incident was not sanctionable if he was protecting his own safety.  Given our feeling that Brad was indeed protecting himself and certainly did not clip the player as he contacted the player nowhere near the knee or quadricep, today’s ruling is not consistent with what the Department of Player Safety communicated to Brad."

Remember, too, that Marchand has a history of disciplinary action. He was suspended last season and was fined earlier this season for a slew-foot.

This puts a wrap on really a weekend full of Canucks-Bruins. The animosity between these two teams is astonishing.

UPDATE: Marchand is apparently doing a season-long diary with ESPN Boston. Here is his most recent entry that he posted late on Monday night after the suspension. Among the highlights is Marchand insinuating Vigneault has a lack of class and denying he plays to hurt people.

More NHL Discipline News Here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com